via The Hill: US soldier in Syria: ‘I am ashamed for the first time in my career’
BY TAL AXELROD – 10/10/19 08:40 AM EDT
A U.S. special forces member serving with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria said Turkey is inflicting atrocities as it invades northeastern Syria.
“I am ashamed for the first time in my career,” the unidentified soldier, who has been involved in the training of indigenous forces on multiple continents, told Fox News Wednesday.
“Turkey is not doing what it agreed to. It’s horrible,” the soldier added. “We met every single security agreement. The Kurds met every single agreement [with the Turks]. There was no threat to the Turks — none — from this side of the border.”
Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish groups Wednesday in northern Syria after President Trumpannounced that U.S. troops would withdraw from the area in anticipation of the operation, removing the chief deterrent to Ankara’s offensive.
Trump sparked a firestorm in Washington over the decision, saying he does not want to fight “endless wars.”
“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally and defense hawk, fired back, saying the decision was a “disaster in the making” that “ensures [an] ISIS comeback” and “will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.”
Turkey has long viewed Kurdish groups in northern Syria, which have worked with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, as linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is labeled a terrorist organization by both Washington and Ankara.
Reports have emerged of several civilians already being killed since Turkey’s military operation began, with the U.S. soldier telling Fox News that Trump “doesn’t understand the problem. He doesn’t understand the repercussions of this” and that U.S. troops are just “sitting by and watching it unfold.”
“This is insanity,” the U.S. service member said. “I don’t know what they call atrocities, but they are happening.”
Defense officials have reportedly expressed concerns that the offensive against the SDF could lead to the inadvertent release of several ISIS members it is detaining. Trump confirmed Thursday morning that the U.S. took custody of two militants believed to be part of an execution unit in case the Kurds or Turkey “lose control.”
“This is not helping the ISIS fight,” the soldier said, adding that many of the ISIS prisoners “will be free in the coming days and weeks.”